A starter for the Seahawks from 2013-15, Sweezy was released by Tampa Bay on Friday. Could a return to Seattle be in order? It's a "natural fit," per one report already.
During his four years in Seattle, J.R. Sweezy was regarded as one of Tom Cable’s biggest success stories, morphing from a college defensive lineman taken in the seventh round to a starter at right guard one year later during Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning season in 2013.
That Cable is now gone, fired after the season and now with the Raiders, might have led to the thought that a reunion with Seattle might be unlikely for Sweezy, who was released on Friday by Tampa Bay.
But according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network — who has tended to have some good insight into the Seahawks — “a return to Seattle would make a lot of sense and would be a natural fit. I’d think that’s something the Seahawks would explore.”
Sweezy officially had his contract terminated on Friday in a cost-cutting move by the Bucs — he was owed $15.5 million over the next three seasons as part of a five-year, $32.5 million deal he signed in 2016 after he became an unrestricted free agent following four seasons in Seattle. He also was recovering from a leg injury and it was unclear if he would win a starting job this year with Tampa Bay.
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Sweezy, 29, missed all of his first season with the Bucs in 2016 due to a back injury, then started the first 14 games of 2017 at right guard before breaking his fibula.
The Seahawks have had zero hesitation to bring back former players, so the thought they’d at least look at Sweezy again now that he is available makes sense in that regard.
That Cable is now gone, though, and replaced by Mike Solari might conversely lead to the idea that Seattle wouldn’t want to dip back into players from Cable’s tenure, in part because Solari plans to add some more varied schemes to what was predominantly a zone-blocking attack under Cable, mixing in more man and straightahead blocking.
Seattle has also been emphasizing size in its offensive linemen in the offseason, having signed 6-5, 342-pound D.J. Fluker to theoretically step in at right guard and also having encouraged left guard Ethan Pocic to gain about 20 pounds in the offseason (listed at 309 last season, Pocic is listed at 320 pounds now).
Sweezy is listed at 298, which would make him lighter than all but one Seahawks offensive lineman — rookie tackle Jamarco Jones, who is listed at 293.
But one caveat is that the 298 listing for Sweezy is the same one he has had since his rookie year with Seattle in 2012 (and actually is what he weighed in at during the Combine in 2012), with Tampa Bay apparently just picking up the same listing for Sweezy once he signed there, meaning it’s possible he weighs more than that now, and that weight wouldn’t be an issue for the Seahawks.
Sweezy was also considered a better run blocker than pass blocker during his time with the Seahawks — and there’s been much written about the Seahawks’ desire to get back to being a more effective and punishing running team in 2018 — and maybe Seattle might think the changes in their OL scheme would suit him better (in a post in 2016 slamming his signing with the Bucs, Pro Football Focus wrote “Sweezy is capable of some of the best run blocks you will see from any guard in the NFL but his consistency simply is not there and he will give away big plays for the opposing defense to balance his impact blocks.”)
And for what it’s worth, he was also a college teammate at North Carolina State of quarterback Russell Wilson (they were each part of the same recruiting class).
Sweezy has played almost solely right guard during his NFL career (Pro Football Reference lists him with 49 starts there) but the Bucs had plans to use him at left guard in 2016 before the back injury surfaced.
While Fluker has been regarded as the likely starter at right guard, he was limited during much of the team’s offseason program with a knee issue and his contract hardly guarantees him a roster spot — he has a one-year deal worth up to $1.4 million with the only guaranteed money a $300,000 signing bonus.
Wherever he lands, Sweezy will cost a lot less than the $6.5 million he was due to make in 2018 and Seattle might view Sweezy as a low-risk bet to add depth and competition. Seattle’s backups behind Fluker were a mixed bag during the practices he missed in the spring, with Jordan Roos — a second-year player who made the roster last year as an undrafted free agent — and third-year man Willie Beavers sharing time with the ones when Fluker was out. Seattle could also use third-year vet Rees Odhiambo — who was also limited in the spring — at right guard.
At the least, Seattle might be intrigued to see what Sweezy might still be able to offer.